Adam Ragusea

“I’m fundamentally an autodidact. I don’t really learn something until I figure it out myself.”

Adam Ragusea is a journalist, professor, musician and host of The Pub podcast. He has nearly 10 years of experience on at online casino with no wagering requirements uk, writing, producing and hosting local. He currently lives in Macon, Georgia with his wife Lauren, son Freddie and dog Lucy. I became familiar with his work by reading Current and listening to The Pub. Both are robust resources about all things public media. The kinds of resources I was looking for when I've asked Barnes and Noble employees, "Do you have any books about public media?" Which was typically followed by blank stares. I interviewed Adam via phone on a rainy Sunday afternoon in November, and early in our conversation, he introduced me to a recording app called Ringr. I was thrilled to learn about such a great resource and even more thrilled to listen back to the conversation as I wrote this post. His natural curiosity about such tools, and “generally how things work," was immediately evident and a common thread throughout our conversation. Go to our website and get online casino paypal. Hurry up to go and start winning. Adam first moved to Georgia to work as the Macon Bureau Chief for Georgia Public Broadcasting. When Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism began with a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, GPB got its own grant from the foundation to facilitate it's participation in the center. Adam ran the Macon bureau and locally hosted Morning Edition from 2012-14, then switched over to Mercer in the 2014-15 academic year.  Prior to these adventures, Adam worked as an Associate Producer / Reporter / Host in Boston, Massachusetts and an Interim News Director in Bloomington, Indiana. He continues to report for a wide variety of institutions, including NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Moving cities was a multi-faceted decision, grounded by a desire to affect change in the field. Only here you are always welcome, together with book of ra za darmo you have no equal! "I’m deeply concerned about lack of diversity in public media. And one of the biggest impediments to having a more diverse workforce in public media is what you could call the 'internship barrier.' Our society has come up with a lot of ways to make college accessible to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s still not perfect at all, but there’s lots of ways that we are getting people into college. Where we’ve really failed so far is getting people from graduation to the workforce.” Grants like the one that funds Mercer's Center for Collaborative Journalism are used to address concerning gaps in journalism education. The Macon Telegraph (a former Knight paper) and Georgia Public Broadcasting (Macon Bureau) are all housed in the same complex with Mercer’s Journalism and Media Studies program. Students work directly with professional partners while pursuing degrees and building portfolios. The goal of the grant is to create a mutually beneficial partnership where institutions benefit from more feet on the ground and successful students graduate with a body of published work. The primary way people get into media production is by enduring what Adam calls “a wilderness period.” This is how he defines the one to four years spent doing unpaid internships, temporary jobs and free gigs with the intention of proving your worth and getting experience you probably should've gotten in college. “It effectively closes off the profession to anyone who isn’t privileged enough to be able to endure that period.” He sees tremendous value in being part of a program that allows students to get their education and apprenticeship simultaneously. Insert clapping emoji here. Mercer remains a liberal arts school at its core, but this particular model is inspired by teaching hospitals in the medical field. The ultimate goal is to produce multi-disciplinary journalists with a breadth of work to take into the post-graduation phase. It’s a balance between embracing the liberal arts model and trying new techniques to fill those historical gaps. “So these are the things that we’re playing with. And it’s successful some days and some days it’s not so successful, but it’s an experiment. That’s literally why we have the grant. The grant is to do an experiment. If it was a model that didn’t require experimentation, then it wouldn’t require a grant, it would just work. The money gives us time and space to fail and to succeed." These invaluable student portfolios span print and broadcast, profit and nonprofit. Being in an intimate learning environment like Mercer allows professors to give time and attention to the students’ work and explain why editing decisions are made. Instead of a mysterious final grade, students gain a greater understanding of the reporting and writing process. “I personally don’t believe this model is infinitely scalable. It just requires way too much hands-on involvement for faculty to take student work and make it publishable.” When asked how he describes his work to people outside of the industry, Adam said, “Oh, dear God, I should probably have an answer to that.” But don’t be fooled, he has a great answer: "The position in which I currently am, which is Journalist in Residence and Visiting Assistant Professor is defined as: a professional journalist, a working journalist who teaches classes at Mercer, but also continues to be a working professional. So that our students can get both the perspective of actual scholars and the perspective of someone who is still in the field. I’m not someone who used to be the field and now I teach and my connections are old and getting older. I’m working now, I’m filing now. I have freelance income coming in now as part of the income stream that supports my family. I’m dealing with all of that now and it directly informs my teaching. My students see me working and are able to talk to me and ask me questions about how I work. They’re able to get involved.” Adam’s work on The Pub is relaxed, conversational and informative. In preparation for each episode, he spends time writing a 10-12 page script of his research and opinions on current events in the public media sphere. Even in the details of producing show, he strives to demonstrate ways in which public media could improve. "It's a very meta exercise in some ways." He is a commentator, but still strives to be objective. Here's a look at how he defines that distinction. As the logo indicates, "pub" refers to public media and a bar. “The kind of vibe that I kind of wanted to try to create, at least in the interview portions of the show, is the way that people talk with their colleagues after work. When you go out for drinks at the end of the week and you’re still talking shop and you’re still kind of on the clock, but you’re much more relaxed. You’re saying stuff that maybe you shouldn’t even be saying. That’s the vibe that I try to create with the show." I was really interested to hear how Adam works in "guerrilla ways” and how the production of the show mirrors its voice and tone. Off the cuff, no fancy setup, no rigid rules. Just writing, recording and producing during pockets of time in the day and night. He does very little prep for interviews and he takes the calls whenever the interviewee has time. Sometimes he even takes his academic regalia from the wall and tents it over his head for diffusion. “I don’t look back. I think that gives the show a vibe that is…when it works, I think it’s kind of exciting. It gives it this sort of liveliness. This DIY, punk rock vibe that I like.” He likes the sincerity of that style and dislikes the growing trend that the only valuable form of content is "highly wrought and meticulously fussed over narrative storytelling." He uses narrative structures to move the story along, but describes his tone as crackly, live and tossed off.  “I like riffs, rants, monologues. I like stand up comedy.” A few of his inspirations include: Dan Savage, Alton Brown, and Mike Pesca. The best way for him to think about something complicated is in the context of an argument. However, he is careful not to let his positions calcify. “I’m making this argument now, not necessarily to persuade you of a point of view, but just as a thought experiment. My arguments are more like thought experiments. I’m testing out a thesis.” Even if he gets to the end and it feels like he hasn’t proven his point, that’s okay. Opinions evolve and it’s all process. And speaking of process, here is a glimpse at Adam’s typical week. He spends the beginning writing and the latter producing the show. A day usually includes:
  • Going to work for University duties
  • Pockets of time for The Pub: interviews, promotion, booking and social media
  • Being a dad
  • More work on The Pub after Freddie goes to sleep (sometimes until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m.)
It was around this time in the conversation when Freddie needed a diaper change, but Adam continued to talk and say insightful things. Impressive, right? “I’ve learned a lot about multitasking in the last year. Doing that show while I do everything else. Learning how to be a professor and having an infant and doing a weekly, rather highly produced podcast entirely by myself (laughs) has involved me getting much better at time management and multi-tasking.” To read more about Adam and his work, check out his website and Twitter feed. And of course, subscribe to The Pub.

Lee + Sarah Rubenstein

"Everyone wants to make some marks."

INTRO: Imagine coming home from a rainy, tough day at work to find a surprise package at your doorstep. Is it a book you forgot you ordered? Something from a 2:00 a.m. infomercial? You unlock your door, walk inside and tear into the package, catching a glimpse of the unmistakable pretzel logo on the side. Inside you find a collection of shiny new art supplies and immediately start imagining the possibilities. Enter, ArtSnacks. A dynamic small business that brings you curated art supplies on a monthly basis. I remember the first time I came across the company on Twitter. I was on one of those clicking spirals where you come across something interesting and can't even remember how you got there. The clever name and pretzel logo caught my eye and I started reading about the purpose and mission of the company. Earlier this year, I reached out to the brother/sister duo behind the operation, Lee and Sarah Rubenstein. They are the brains and muscles that run every aspect ArtSnacks. Everything you see is a product of their tireless efforts to bring art supplies to the masses. They scour supply shelves and encourage everyone to share their creations through the online ArtSnacks community. I spoke with Lee and Sarah many moons ago (over the summer), and what follows is a compilation of my notes from our conversation. It's an understatement to say they were a blast to meet over the phone and I'm thrilled to finally have these notes out in the world. Environment + Geography Sarah lives in Boston and Lee holds down the fort in New York. They collaborate easily across statelines and schedule time for face-to-face meetings and brainstorms (occasionally at their parents' house). On a standard day, they both work from home offices and/or anywhere with an Internet connection. How did Art Snacks begin? (First, a few fun facts).
  1. Lee and Sarah both went to art school.
  2. They are 50/50 co-owners that never thought they would own a small business together.
  3. They use words like "awesome" and "terrifying" to describe the experience of being in business together as siblings.
It begins with EatSleepDraw, a user-submitted online art gallery co-founded by Lee and Ben Ross. Now in the 8th year of its tenure, it is largest user-submitted blog on Tumblr with 650,000 daily followers. Not to mention they receive over 1,100 pieces of artwork per week for Executive Editor Anthony Lamberty to review. Sheesh! About two years ago, Sarah introduced Lee to Birchbox to see if his wife might enjoy it as a holiday gift. Lee subsequently asked if there was a box for him. More specifically, an art supply box. There wasn't. They tossed around the idea of making their own. What would it look like? Who would subscribe? What would it be called? They did a three month incubation of the idea and a lot of research before deciding to launch. "We'll make sure it works, blog about it on EatSleepDraw and hopefully people will turn up," Lee says. In April 2015, after delivering month after month and gaining a significant volume of customers, Lee and Sarah both quit their day jobs. They wanted to amp things up by meeting more often, setting attainable goals and breaking the nine-to-five work mode. In a lot of ways, they're still discovering what patterns make the most sense. Sarah's previous work in branding and fashion plays a significant role in how they make decisions on what's best for the customer. Being a team of two means they touch every aspect of the business. They manage the community, source and test the supplies, handle business development and support customers individually. They believe that their greatest strength and source of inspiration lies within their customers, and they strive to make thoughtful choices every step of the way. In Sarah's words, “Our ultimate goal is to make sure the customer experience is flawless, like Beyonce. “ Media + Motivation There is no shortage of ideas, and the challenge lies in focusing on what works for the brand. "It's all about working backwards. What does it look like? Where are we going to get this stuff?" Next they divide and conquer, strike a balance and stay on task. Lee finds inspiration in the abundance of art and design in New York, while Sarah soaks in the benefits of a collegiate / startup town by attending lectures and drop-in classes. A few of Sarah's podcast subscriptions:
  • Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!
  • Reply All
  • Mystery Show
  • The Moth
  • This American Life
  • Freakonomics
  • Call Your Girlfriend
A few of Lee's subscriptions:
  • 99% Invisible
  • Mystery Show
  • Serial
  • Planet Money
  • The Ask Gary V Podcast
  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • StartUp Podcast
  • Radiolab
  • Mythbusters (TV)
  • Marcus Lemonis' The Profit (TV)
Last but not least, I asked Lee and Sarah about how they describe their work to other people. Describing creative work can be really challenging and it's always fun to see how different people go about it. Here's what they had to say: "I sell art supplies." - Lee "I run a monthly subscription box for art supplies, called ArtSnacks." - Sarah Follow the adventure via their website, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Be part of the adventure by subscribing to ArtSnacks and tagging your creation with #artsnackschallenge

Briana + Jason = Brainstorm

"We like to make information interesting."

Photos by: Brainstorm
INTRO: Brainstorm is an art print and illustration studio founded by collaborators and spouses Briana Feola and Jason Snyder. They started in 2007 and unintentionally built a business out of their creative endeavors. I came across a few of their framed prints in Young Blood Boutique back in 2014 and it was love at first sight. As soon as I started this conversation series, they were on the top of my list. It took some time for us to connect, but we had a chance to chat via email recently. Below you'll find Briana and Jason's thoughts on process, adventure and the daily hustle. Lightly edited for length and clarity. Environment + Geography Stephanie: What are some of your favorite aspects of living and working in New Hampshire? Brainstorm: Our location in New Hampshire is so ideal. We love all the fresh air, for sure. We’re so grateful to live and work in a place that is a couple of hours from an incredible mountain range for hiking and snowboarding and 30 minutes from beautiful beaches. Lakes and rivers galore. We can be in Boston or Portland, Maine in an hour (or NYC in three) if we need to get our city fix. NH has an awesome culture of thriving small towns with great beer and food. Farmers markets. Great people. Awesome yard sales. All good things! S: How much does your physical environment impact your work? B: Very much! If we feel cramped or stifled or uncomfortable in any way, being creative is a total bust. It’s definitely interesting to see what prints and projects come out of what years. We lived in Philadelphia and were inspired by the food and the hipster bike scene. We lived in New Jersey and we did a lot of gardening stuff. We’re so inspired by our current studio space in New Hampshire, with its bright and historic vibe. Also, being so close to natural elements is great for us to tune out, which is a must for our work and process. S: What do your current workspace(s) consist of? Do you like to stick to your studio or move around? PS: I love the "How we work" portion of your website. B: Thanks! Currently we do almost everything in our studio. Illustration, printing, packing, shipping, etc. We definitely like to take a laptop and work remotely on computer-y, business things, but a lot of our work is very hands on and you need to be in the studio to do it. We’ve moved a lot over the course of our relationship and business, but we’ve finally found a studio that fits our needs and plan to stay for a bit. Thank goodness, because we keep adding equipment every time we move!
Photo by: Brainstorm
Media / Motivation S: Do you consume media (podcasts, music, videos, etc.) while you work? B: Something is always on. We’ve got playlists out the wazoo (a quiet studio sometimes can feel like something is wrong). We like to keep it upbeat, especially when we’re printing or doing anything physical like packing for a tradeshow or a craft show, building displays, etc. More mellow when we are on the computer or illustrating/painting. We like to listen to playlists on chanceswithwolves.com (DJ from Brooklyn) or reverbarationradio.com. We occasionally listen to a little Howard Stern to keep our hand in with pop culture and listen to some great interviews with interesting people. S: Are you involved in any creative communities at the moment? B: Doing a little self reflection lately, we realized we’re on the border of many different communities (we think it’s the Internet that allows us to do that). We’re in the handmade craft show community, the letterpress/stationery community, the screenprinted gig poster community. While we don’t fit in perfectly with any particular one since we make screenprinted art prints, we are able to learn, ask questions, and feel connected to like-minded entrepreneur types from all over the place. Thank you, Internet! S: What motivates you to get started on new things? What gets you to the first mark of a project? B: Sensing we’ve been focusing on business too much, less on creative...that tends to spark a fire for new work. Usually a self imposed deadline can keep pieces coming. Upcoming seasons and tradeshows put the pressure on to keep releasing new work, which is a strange thing to consider since what we do is very handmade and very artistic by nature. We have to balance the business with the creative. We walk a very interesting line of making original artwork and selling it on a bigger scale. Also digging through old books and visiting thrift/antique shops can light a fire under our butts to make something new and fun. A tiny illustration in an obscure textbook from 1967 can spark an entire suite of prints. You just never know.
Photo by: Brainstorm
Current Work S: How do you describe your work to other people? B: We like to make information interesting. A lot of our prints are educational and this is just something that we gravitated towards once we started working together. We like our prints to be conceptual, but not overly so. We love posters as a medium to convey these ideas because they're approachable and affordable. We also like to keep a sense of humor in our prints. Once we start taking it too seriously, then what’s the point? S: Do you have a preference between the analog and digital parts of your work? B: Every print we make employs both analog and digital processes. We usually start on paper with pens or watercolor, work our way up to a scanner, and then manipulate in the computer to clean it up. Then it either makes it’s way to film positives for transition into screenprints or hits the digital printers. It depends on the piece. We enjoy doing both because they really balance each other out. After working on the computer for a while, it’s nice to get on the press to print an edition of posters. And it works the other way too - after printing a five color run of 300, it’s nice to sit and work on something to get off your feet.
Photos by: Brainstorm
S: What are some of the biggest challenges, surprises and learnings from starting Brainstorm? B: There's been a ton of challenges and surprises. Nobody can prepare you for what it's like to work with your spouse...it's the BEST and the WORST all at once, (but mostly the best!). Neither of us have a background in business, so our journey thus far has been an interesting one. We were surprised to find out how effectively a business can run while learning about business as you go. We’d always assumed that people who own businesses have this wealth of knowledge beforehand that they can rely on, when in reality a lot of people learn on the fly. That flexibility and that quick ability to adapt is what really allowed our business to grow. Starting up a creative business with a lot of student debt was (and still is) a big challenge to overcome because that’s money going out the door that could be invested back in the business. We still value college and what that debt allowed us to experience and learn (and we got to meet each other too!), but creative startups can really use every dollar. It all plays back into our flexibility, (going with the flow, rolling with the punches, etc.) and we’re proud of that. S: When you're researching content for a new project, do you have any particular ways of going about that? Any favorite places for resources or information? B: A lot of that starts in books from the studio. We hunt thrift stores and antique shops for paper ephemera that strikes our fancy. We’re always growing our book collection because having the images and information offline is key. And a lot of old books have some really great illustrations that are solid jumping off points. Google and Wikipedia are obvious resources and we’re super grateful that we have the Internet. It’s so strange to think of running a business or starting any kind of project without it. S: Do you have any new adventures, travels or projects coming up that you'd like to share? B: We’re showing at NYNow in August 2015. It’s our first time bringing Brainstorm to this show (booth 7343!) and we’re excited to see what relationships come out of the show. We have some new products coming out but you’re going to have to wait until the show for the reveal! Two weeks after the show we’re officially getting married, so that’s been a big summer project! We’ll be doing some retail craft shows in September and up through the holidays. We’re just generally excited for 2016. We feel like we are finally hitting a creative business stride and we’re pumped to see what’s ahead!
Photo by: Brainstorm
Check out more of Brainstorm's work on their website, blog and Instagram.

Reuben Ingber

INTRO: Reuben Ingber is a front end web developer and designer based in Manhattan. He is also creator and host of the podcast How to Hold a Pencil. We scheduled a quick phone interview back in June and I asked him all kinds of questions about hosting a podcast and balancing side projects with a full-time job. His pursuits stem from a genuine curiosity for his craft and the people and ideas surrounding it. He is a self-taught developer and his podcast focuses on interviews with designers and developers with similar stories. The summary on his website sums it up nicely: 
"How to Hold a Pencil is an interview show with self-taught designers and developers. Its purpose is to inspire and empower individuals who are already learning to make things and to help others get off the sidelines. The stories are meant to help people find and explore different paths towards education, in the hopes that more people will take the bull by the horns and go out make something."
The more we talked, the more evident it became that Reuben pursues projects based on deep desires to learn and put great things out into the world. Environment + Geography Reuben grew up in New York, went to school in Washington D.C. and eventually moved back to the big apple. He takes advantage of being in a creative hub like New York by going to meet ups, attending events and trying to get to Creative Mornings every month. "I think being surrounded by other people who are in your industry or field is certainly helpful. And being surrounded by companies and creative companies is helpful because your opportunities are greater." After leaving D.C., he took some time to freelance and figure out what his next move should be. "I had no idea what I was going to do. I was scared shitless, but I knew it was going to work out. I knew that I would figure something out or do whatever it took to figure that out." Looking back, he's glad he made the move and would do it all over again. Media + Motivation When coding or writing, Reuben listens to soundtracks, techno or instrumental music. When commuting to work or doing mindless tasks, he listens to podcasts. It isn't often that I get to ask a podcast host for a list of their favorites so this was really exciting:
  1. Build and Launch
  2. Design Matters
  3. Entrepreneurs and Coffee (a new listen)
  4. The Podcast Dude
  5. Slate's Whistlestop
  6. The Whisky Topic
  7. 99% Invisible
  8. Developer Tea
  9. The East Wing
  10. The Gently Mad
The motivation for personal and side projects stems from a desire to learn or a passion for what it is. "Whether that's development or design or writing, I have this drive to learn new things." For freelance work, he tries to find something he's passionate about or something that involves learning a new skill. "I've grown confident enough in my skills where I can say, 'Sure, I'll do that for you' even if I've never done it before." Current Work + Process His workload includes a full-time job at Business Insider, freelance projects on the side and How to Hold a Pencil. We related over the challenges of balancing projects and ways to carve out the time. "My freelance work is done mostly at night and on weekends. I try to do podcasting at night, in the morning or whenever the free moment exists to edit."  When working on a big freelance project, Reuben's schedule might look something like this: 
  1. 6:00 a.m. Wake up and get two hours of work done
  2. Commute to full-time job and work an eight hour day
  3. Commute home, eat dinner and work until midnight
  4. Repeat, repeat, repeat for three weeks 
Reuben describes his work in one of two ways:
  1. "If it's my parents or my parents' friends, I say, 'I build websites.' I also tell them I'm work at Business Insider. And they're like, 'Oh, you work at Business Insider and you build websites. Done.'" 
  2. "For people our age, I explain that I build websites, I freelance, I design, I podcast, I do a bunch of stuff."
Since most of Reuben's work lives in the digital world, I was curious about any analog projects he might be pursuing on the side. "About three or four years ago, I started to run and that's sort of become my analog project. It's my time to clear my head and think. There are a lot of analog and physical projects that I would love to work on, but I live in a Manhattan apartment and I don't have the space. I would love to build things, I just don't have the opportunity to do it. I consider running an analog project. It's one of those opportunities to focus on one thing." Biggest Surprises from How to Hold a Pencil:
  1. "The biggest surprise is the fact that people are so willing to come onto the show. That I've been able to talk to people like Debbie Millman, Chris Coyier and these people that are huge in the industry."
  2. "When I was publishing consistently, I was getting 700-800 listens per week. Some episodes have reached over 2,000 downloads since posting."
Biggest challenges from How to Hold a Pencil:
  1. "Keeping to a schedule. When you you say you're going to post a podcast a week and you're doing it on your own, there's a lot to do."
  2. "Acquiring and maintaining sponsorships. After awhile, getting those sponsorships was really difficult and took a lot of time and energy. It was a whole process and I just wanted to get back to having conversations with people."
Whether you're new to coding or just looking for the inspiration to get outside of your comfort zone and expand your skill set, How to Hold a Pencil is well-worth checking out. Two of my favorite interviews are with Lara Hogan and Lee Rubinstein.  For more of Reuben's work, check out his website and Twitter.

Kristin Glenn

"The language around what I do is always evolving."

Kristin wearing the Seamly.co summer wrap in teal.
INTRO: Kristin Glenn is a sustainable clothing designer and small business owner based in New York. I first became familiar with her work through {R}evolution Apparel, a joint venture with fellow entrepreneur Shannon Whitehead. I was fascinated by their endeavor: two twenty-something women traversing the United States, raising awareness about sustainable manufacturing practices through their signature piece, the Versalette. After a profitable year in production, the duo decided to part ways and pursue individual projects. Kristin took some time to reflect on what she learned and plot her next steps. And then became Seamly.co. In celebration of her company’s two year anniversary, Kristin wrote this blog post about how it all began, backtracking to a New Orleans bartending gig from her early twenties. Environment + Geography She made the move from Denver to New York in January of this year. The biggest challenge is finding a sense of pattern and routine in a city famous for sensory overload. “Everything is so visually stimulating. I didn’t realize that I was missing that so much. There’s so much diversity in everything. Being around that has given me a lot of energy." Now that she’s settled into a shared studio space in Williamsburg, her creative output has increased significantly. Two of the key elements of her current workspace are a standing desk and a photo studio. Her studio mate, Jesse, is a fellow sustainable clothing designer and they enjoy the opportunities to bounce ideas and share resources.
Kristin is extremely grateful for the community that continues to support her from Colorado. In fact, all of the garments are still made there. When writing about the beginnings of Seamly.co, she describes Boulder as, “...the best place on Earth for people in transition. It’s crunchy and thoughtful and supportive.” New York is a change of pace, but Kristin sees it as the explorer she is: “I feel like I’m expanding my learning experiences so much. It feels like there’s an expectation that if you’re doing your own thing or starting something, there is a social impact behind it." Media + Motivation Kristin primarily listens to instrumental “study” and “focus” Spotify playlists while she’s working. She finds podcasts are too distracting. Electronic, ESM and other low key genres are her go-tos. For the time being, her workload is shifting into more of a marketing and selling mode. “I’m in this strange place where I’m not totally a maker at the moment.” If it was up to her, she would constantly be making things and posting snapshots to Instagram. What a dream! “Sometimes when I see what other people are doing, I get inspired to start making again. If I go long enough without making something new, I will implode. I feel that way about writing, too. I can go for a while without writing and then have a sudden desire to write. It’s random and sporadic, like on a bus or a plane.” Current Work + Process When asked how she describes her work to other people, Kristin shared some really interesting thoughts: “I always tell them that I own a clothing company and then explain that I use fabrics made in the U.S. and all pieces are handmade made in Denver. I don’t use the words ‘fashion’ or ‘designer.’ I prefer ‘small business owner.’ Fashion can be a little alienating because people assume high fashion.  The language around what I do is always evolving. I think people would be more interested in where their clothes come from if it wasn’t presented as ‘luxury.’ There’s some pretentiousness around those words. When I tell people what I do, I want to connect with them. And when you tell them you’re a designer or writer, they usually can’t connect with that."
Being a small business owner means that her responsibilities are always in flux and the work changes week-by-week. She uses written to-do lists and enjoys the physical act of writing things down on paper. “There’s so much work and it will never end. Most days are driven by what I feel I need to get done.” She didn’t go to fashion school and she takes an autodidact approach to anything she pursues. When asked about the biggest challenges, surprises and learnings from her pursuits in the sustainable fashion industry: "Challenge and adventure: time to collect all of the information and figure out the best way to make my products. Locations, techniques, fabrics. The toughest thing about sustainable fashion is figuring out the best way to make products that are good for people and the planet. There isn't a lot of hard information because it's new industry. There are a lot of learning curves along the way." “Once I figure out a price that I'm pretty comfortable with, the next challenge is education-based. Making sure customers know what I'm doing, why I'm making certain decisions and being transparent." Check out this "how it's made" video for a glimpse of this transparency. This year's primary challenge is adding a jacket to the line. It will be the first garment that she’s making out of woven fabric. Aside from that, exploring New York and finding her place will continue to be the biggest adventure of 2015. “I never thought that I’d be interested in New York. I’m realizing that I could live here forever and still never totally grasp what the city’s about." Check out more of Kristin's work on her website, Instagram, Pinterest and Vimeo.

Julyan Davis

"There’s also a sense that one will always be an outsider, an observer. That is probably heightened by being an artist: I would feel something of that wherever I was."
INTRO: Originally hailing from London, England, Julyan Davis has a fresh perspective on what it's like to live, paint and hike in the American South. His work is internationally exhibited and represented in many public and private art collections. He completed his B.A. in Painting and Printmaking at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. In 1988, he traveled to the South with a strong interest in the history of Demopolis, Alabama and its settling by Bonapartist exiles. His latest work explores traditional American ballads through the lens of the contemporary South. This work is currently touring museums and is accompanied by lectures and musical performances. With a keen awareness of his surroundings, Julyan depicts the American South with a sense of mystery, wonder and delicacy. We had a chance to chat via email. Below is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation. Environment + Geography Stephanie: What is your favorite part of living and working in Asheville?  Julyan: I would have to say the great community of fellow artists, and artists working in so many disciplines. I’ve lived here for 15 years and have made many good friends. I love the surrounding mountains, where I find the great majority of my subject matter, and where I love to hike. S: How was the transition from England to the American South? J: I was familiar with the South through its music, literature and its depiction in cinema. Arriving here, as I think many more recent immigrants feel, there’s an odd familiarity because of TV and cinema  it looks exactly as one expects. There’s also a sense that one will always be an outsider, an observer. That is probably heightened by being an artist: I would feel something of that wherever I was.
S: How much does your physical environment impact your work? J: When I moved to the mountains I focused on painting the landscape, so I am very attuned to my physical environment. I’m fascinated by how places are changed by such things as ice storms, or heavy rain, or fog. It’s interesting that I need a historical connection to the landscape. Wilderness alone does not interest me as something to paint. The settling of the Appalachians by the Scots-Irish brought a cultural history to these mountains that resonated for me, bringing an old, familiar presence to this forest. In the same way, I recently read several books that at last connected the American West to my own country in the same way. I went out there this past Christmas and saw it entirely differently. S: What does your current workspace consist of? Do you like to stick to one space or move around? J: I recently moved a large studio in North Asheville, that finally has good north light. I have several easels standing around and like to work on several pieces at once. I seem to pair things recently  a large and small canvas on the same theme, just in case one makes a leap and can influence the other. The studio is right on the French Broad river, and there are parks North and South if I want to take my four-year-old outside while I paint. Media + Motivation S: Do you consume media (music, podcasts, audiobooks, videos, etc.) while you work? J: I listen to a lot of music  baroque, jazz, world music  through the day. I’ve recently gotten into the habit of listening to podcasts and YouTube documentaries while I paint, on the lives and works of authors, filmmakers and poets. S: Are you involved in artistic / creative communities? J: Not at the moment. I feel a responsibility to help younger artists, college students, etc. by opening my studio to pass on what I’ve learned and will keep trying at that. It’s not easy! My strongest memory of art school is ignoring the good advice I was given, so I was no different. S: What motivates and inspires you? Do you paint daily? J: I paint a lot of different subject matter  landscapes, interiors, the nude, portraits, still life. Following the traditional genres means you can always keep things fresh. I suppose overall, I paint my life, that I am recording my experiences. I’m inspired by so many painters, but also by film and literature. I’m noticing that I’m tying the ballad paintings more and more to sociology and even philosophical reading. I paint every day. I used to paint all the time  too much really. Looking after my little boy forces me to slow down and notice little things like wildlife. He will look over my shoulder and say, “Do you see that bear, dad?” I’m realizing that not everything we encounter in life has to be weighed in terms of subject matter.
Philosophy S: How do you describe your work to other people? J: The succinct version might be, 'I paint both landscapes and cityscapes. I like to paint old, run-down empty places that tend to be overlooked, but that have a kind of inherent beauty. I also do big, narrative paintings that set figures in such locations, but let the viewer lose themselves in what might be happening.' S: Do you have any personal definitions of 'art' and 'artist?' J: Interesting. I think an artist, or a great artist, is someone who transcends their craft. A mastery of skill is almost always required, but great art comes from that distinct voice that comes through. In writing, for example, isn’t it amazing that you can identify a great author in a couple of lines, when each is fastened to the same harness of language and grammar? Current Work S: Tell me about your current pieces: "...interpreting traditional American ballads through the contemporary South." What led you there? J: I grew up listening to a lot of traditional music, mainly interpreted through the folk revival of the 50’s and 60’s. My father played guitar and sang these songs. He also had a taste for the macabre in his writing  crime fiction based on sensational Victorian criminals. I liked the tone  the dry humor and fatalism within these songs. When I moved to the mountains of North Carolina, I realized how very alive those songs had remained. In Madison County, just North of Asheville, I’ve listened to people, not professional musicians, stand up and sing verse after verse of songs handed down through their families over two or three hundred years  living history. And I realized that culture still affects the behavior and gender roles of mountain people. I decided to take the old songs and set them in the contemporary South. The Murder Ballad series was the start. It has been touring regional museums since then. Greg and Lucretia Speas perform the ballads and I give a talk on how each painting is approached. As the exhibit grows, it subtly alters. The last painting began with a title and ended with Greg’s composition of a song. If there’s a unifying theme, I suppose it is how culture can take us in a place or a situation we had not wished. S: Do you work on projects outside of your visual work? J: I enjoy writing. I had a couple of blogs on art, but I am focusing now only on fiction. I love the way fiction can surprise one. It’s something I have found again in the ballad paintings. S: Do you have any new adventures, travels or projects coming up? J: I will be painting in Maine again this summer. The ballad series is now represented by Evoke Contemporary, a gallery in Santa Fe. The work has been well-received there, and I am enjoying setting new paintings in the Western landscape.
Photo of his light-filled Asheville studio. Photo taken by Julyan.
For more of Julyan's stunning work, check out his website here.

LOSTBOY


"I don't know how else to explain the process other than letting myself go, allowing myself that space and time to explore, to allow my voice to be heard, to allow myself to just be, to just do."
INTRO: I stumbled across LOSTBOY's work on Instagram and immediately fell in love with their line work and meaningful captions. The meticulously beautiful drawings are made even more interesting by the thought behind them. LOSTBOY fearlessly explores topics like identity and connection, while centering everything with line work and distinct mark-making. We coordinated a Sunday evening Google Chat across time zones and discussed everything from movie theater popcorn to societal perceptions of gender. Below is a transcript of our conversation, very lightly edited for length and clarity. Mar 8, 8:07 PM EST / 5:07 PST LOSTBOY: lets see... does this work? 🙂 Stephanie: I haven't used this new version of gchat yet! L: haha neither have i S: I won't keep you long! How about we start with the basics. How long have you been in Los Angeles? L: I'm originally from los angeles and have been traveling/living elsewhere (portland, oakland) since my early 20s for quite some time. I've been back home since September of 2014. S: Very cool. Any preference between LA and Portland? L: I definitely prefer LA for a few reasons a) more diverse b) my family is here c) i get seasonal depression so i'm pretty damn happy in LA d) portland has horrible mexican food... (i still love portland but there's no competition in my book!) S: All good reasons. I can imagine the consistently sunny weather is nice. L: minus the smog, yep. S: Ha - we have a lot of that in Atlanta, too. How much does your environment affect your work? L: I think it effects everything about my work. For instance, I was working with people with developmental disabilities for 3 years in Oakland. CA and in that time, I didn't have that much time to myself in terms of my art so I drew constantly in my sketchbook during lunch hours and breaks. Now that I'm in LA, unemployed but focusing more on selling my art, I have my own studio schedule and that type of stability and flexibility allows me to expand my work (bigger pieces, etc).

S: That's really exciting that you're pursuing art full time right now. Was your job in Oakland art-related? L: Not too much beyond facilitating some art time for therapy and entertaining clients by drawing Michael Jackson! I mostly took them around the community and integrating them in different social situations and experiences. S: That sounds like really interesting work. I can imagine you impacted a lot of people. L: They impacted me just as equally if not more.  S: I'm sure. That's really cool. Are you involved in any artistic / creative communities in LA? L: Since I just moved back I'm starting to dip my feet into it. I heard of the Academy of Handmade having some cool workshops/meet ups in Los Angeles that I plan to check out and I'm even vending at next month's Jackalope Art and Craft Fair in Pasadena. I hope to connect with more artistic folks there. S: Awesome. There's so much cool art happening in California! L: Yeah, I'm super excited to get into it all! S: What other types of jobs have you had in the past? L: I definitely identify as a jack of all trades. I've had jobs as random as: a ride operator at disneyland, a gelato maker, a student study librarian, a children's museum story teller/art teacher, and a store receiver for a well known clothing company... I mean, that's quite a resume, I know. hahaha S: That's so great! L: oh! and a movie theater employee. I was pro at mixing up butter and popcorn ratio. S: Haha that's a major skill in my book. Movie theater popcorn is one of my favorite things. L: It's all about layers!!! Layer butter 3 times within the popcorn bag, shake it up each time you pour a layer, and you got a perfect experience. S: That is extremely beneficial knowledge. Now that you're pursuing art full time, how to you stay motivated / inspired / encouraged? L: One of the ways that I stay motivated is somewhat of a regiment already in place. I started drawing everyday, for mostly therapy reasons, a few years ago and that started my daily practice. Currently I'm pursuing a drawing a day for a year (#365yokoonoillustratedtweets) where I pay homage to one of my art idols, Yoko Ono. Her twitter tweets are magic and I just felt like this year was the year I pursue one of my dream projects. I get a lot of encouragement too from the Instagram community. as cheesy as that sounds. Since I post daily, I have gotten to know and grow with those who have been following me and vice versa. I also have a plethora of supporting friends who are just absolutely brilliant artists and feel so blessed to have them in my life. S: Amazing. I've really enjoyed your 365 project! L: Aw! Thanks! I'm glad, I'm thoroughly enjoying it as well! S: What are your studio / workspace necessities? L: 1. Coffee. 2. Something in the background like a documentary I've seen over and over again... That way I'm still intrigued but not getting distracted. 3. A clean desk. I constantly clean my space, almost daily. 4. And of course I've got to have some paper and pens around! In a neat stack is preferable.
S: Awesome. Any favorite documentaries / background media? L: "Cutie And The Boxer", "Exit Through The Gift Shop", and re-runs of art 21 and project runway. 🙂 S: Very cool. That's a nice variety! Do you have any favorite places to work outside of your studio? L: Yeah, absolutely. I actually make it a point to do this at least once a week cause often times I go for days without interacting with the public. There's this cute and quite busy coffee shop in Old Town Pasadena. Copa Vida, that I frequently visit. It's just busy enough that I get my "people fix" and quiet enough that most people won't bother me. Usually I'll have headphones on if I'm drawing in public. But I also like to read magazines and just exist outside. Of course with iced coffee I can do just about anything. S: Nice. That sounds like the perfect shop. And I like your perspective of "existing outside." I can relate to that one. L: Yeah, us artists can get consumed pretty damn easily in our comfortable work studio space and not even leave for a breathe of fresh air. It's got it's pros and cons... S: Definitely. I think balance is good. Could you take me through your process from beginning a piece to finishing a piece? L: Well it definitely depends on the project. For example, I'm prompted with a quote for my Yoko Ono project. Other than that work, I would say my process is an extension of my first solo show, CORE, in Oakland last year. I started a series of work really showing the public, and even myself, the millions of layers that make up who I am, as a Queer First Generation Korean American. I start off those drawings from that series doodling. That very act of just mark making makes a huge difference in the process. I use organic lines, shapes, visceral feelings that remind me of landscapes, rivers, seas, rocks, veins, wrinkles, air, love, etc. I usually feel out what type of material to use. Lately, I've been drawn to found paper that I've saved over the years for no reason other than simply loving the act of collecting. I don't know how else to explain the process other than letting myself go, allowing myself that space and time to explore, to allow my voice to be heard, to allow myself to just be, to just do. I usually stop, take a break, walk my dog or take a nap, and come back to it. It's pretty exhausting to get consumed, especially when my line work can get somewhat obsessive. It's almost as if it's not done till it's filled to the brim.
S: Love that. I remember seeing an Instagram post where you mentioned just starting with the desire to make your hand move. L: I truly feel like our hands are the extensions of our hearts! One of the reasons why I have a tattoo of an open hand, I wanted to always remind myself to be open hearted. S: Well said. It sounds like you explore identity in really profound ways. Can you tell me more about that? L: Absolutely! So my identity is the core of everything I do. The reasons why it's so important is because it's not as normative as one may think. People assume I'm just a dude because of my art name "LOSTBOY." And by dude I mean, a biological man. I'm not. I identify as genderqueer. What that means to me is that I believe our society has made everything a binary that actually causes more harm than not... I blur those lines. I have characteristics that are both masculine and feminine, why conform to just one gender. Gender is an expression, an outlet for what's inside. That has nothing to do with what body parts you have. LOSTBOY is a means for me to explore every type of adventure, regardless of gender. Hope that kind of made sense... This is a small snippet of a huge conversation piece, I'm sure but I just wanted to state it as simply as possible. S: Amazing. That is such a nice, succinct and impactful way of putting it. Your website lists: affirmation, line work and connection at the top. Can you elaborate on those words and how you came to them? L: Absolutely! Let's see... I've always been drawn to positive sayings. I was the kid that collected all my fortune telling slips and read all the chicken soup for the soul books. But not until I moved to the bay area did I hear the term "Affirmation." I realized that was all I was drawn to. I also realized that in a deeper way, I didn't feel like I was affirmed enough as a kid being so different and weird, that I feel like unconsciously, I wanted to make sure others would feel affirmation after seeing my work, so that we wouldn't feel so alone. I made lines constantly as a kid too. I even got this award in high school for stippling this portrait of two pigs from a calendar I had. I was keen on expressing imagery through line making, story telling, showing depth and movement, etc. And connection is a word that I caught onto every hearing Brene Brown's TEDxTalk from "The Power of Vulnerability." She has this quote from there that I have engrained into my everyday life. "Connection is why we're here".
S: So neat and interesting. I love that TEDx talk. L: truly one of my favorites! S: How do you feel about labels like "art" and "artist?" Do you have any personal definitions? L: I use this quote a lot to exemplify how I feel but I'll use it again! "Art is doing" -Ruth Asawa. I truly believe that. Now, that is as broad in definition as it can be but that's how I feel. I believe if there was intention and thought put behind it, it is art. As far as an artist, I know so many different people who are artistic but don't know how to pick up a paintbrush. I generally hate labels because I think it can be super restricting. I'm a true believer in self identifying and respecting that person's craft as they see fit. So I guess I would say an artist is also someone who does and says they are an artist! S: Very cool. And I completely agree. I prefer really broad definitions of art. It's everywhere! L: Look at baristas!!! S: Yes! I'm at a coffee shop now! Home away from home.